Get to Know the Bailey Giauque Family
Watch the Video Above or Read the full interview below!
Meet the Bailey Giauque family – a family of 4 from the US who sold everything to take a 2.5 year worldschooling adventure through SE Asia and Europe.
At a young age their son was diagnosed with ADHD and a Sensory Processing Disorder – traditional learning in a public school was extremely challenging for him, for his parents and for the educators. The education system struggled to meet his needs, he was subjected to teasing from kids, was labelled a loser, and sadly, at just 9 of age, little Julien had started to believe them.
What happened next is nothing short of extraordinary, once out of the education system, Julien came alive and his mom and dad were fascinated to discover just how much he was actually learning. Julien’s confidence grew and when he returned to school 2 ½ years later, he was a different kid. He knows he has incredible gifts and is making the most of them.
In today’s interview, Mom Cindy shares with us exactly how Julien benefited from not being part of the school system, give hints and tips on the logistics of making this lifestyle happen and explain how her family travelled for 2.5 years on less than $100/day.
My name is Cindy Bailey Giauque, I’m American, and my husband is from Switzerland. We have two children, a boy and a girl, and we took two and a half years off to travel the world. When we started our two and a half year trip around the world, our daughter was three, and our son was nine.
We got rid of all of our possessions from our California home, just about everything, and took off and traveled mostly to Southeast Asia, but also a little bit of Europe. We’ve been back in California for almost three years now. So we’ve been back a while, and we’re ready to move out again.
Why did you start Worldschooling?
My husband and I both have always loved to travel, but we wanted something more than just a two week or even a month vacation. We wanted something that was more of a major dramatic lifestyle change because we were feeling so exhausted and run down by our day to day obligations, that we weren’t even able to spend time with our kids. It was a struggle for us to have our kids, and now that they were here, we weren’t able to spend time with them. So we wanted that quality time with our kids, and we wanted to travel, and we’re like, let’s do this baby.
Where have you been?
We spent most of our time in Southeast Asia, and we loved it. We went to Thailand first. We’d been to Thailand before, so it wasn’t so eye-opening in the sense that it wasn’t so new to us. But it’s lovely. Everything about it is wonderful. We stayed in Thailand for a month, in Bangkok, and then a month in Koh Samui, so we experienced a little bit of island life as well as city life. And really, a month is a good amount of time to really get into the culture and eat the street food, meet the people, both local people as well as fellow ex-pats.
Then we spent about three months in Vietnam, which was fantastic. We’d never been to Vietnam, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We traveled through all of Vietnam from the south up to the north. We had all kinds of incredible adventures. I think my son hit every single waterpark and amusement park in all of Southeast Asia.
What is Worldschooling?
Worldschooling to me is about traveling around the world and learning about the world around you and having that interactive relationship between your child and the world around you. So, for me, it’s not unschooling necessarily, it’s not one particular type of schooling, but it’s just schooling on the road.
How did you prepare to start Worldschooling?
We had decided we were going to take this trip and then it was a matter of the logistics involved.
First, we got rid of all our possessions. We had a four-bedroom house that we were renting in Silicon Valley. We are very outdoorsy people, so the garage was just full of all kinds of outdoor equipment, rock climbing, kayaking, scuba diving, skis, everything, and it was kind of hard to get rid of everything. It was really emotional to get rid of some of these things. I didn’t expect it to be. I thought “no, I live light“, but it was challenging.
The first thing is we had to make the decision. My husband had to be okay with saying no to his job and taking that time off. We saved money. So that’s how we help to fund our travels is we saved a bunch of money. Also, my husband had some stocks with his company that he was able to periodically cash in as we traveled, and that helped us as well.
We also put ourselves on a really tight budget, and we only traveled to places where the cost of living was really low, like Southeast Asia, and we went to the parts of Europe that were more inexpensive. So we were able to stick to a pretty tight budget and get a lot out of that budget. So that’s how we decided how we were going to do it.
Then it was logistics; we got rid of our possessions. And then we pull the kids out of school; I did all the research about how to homeschool them, and how we would do this on the road, the practicalities of that.
And then we got on that plane and said, oh my god, I can’t believe we’re doing this! I didn’t even know if we would make it because I remember that we flew out on the 28th of December right after the Christmas holidays. And we were still getting rid of furniture two days before we were scheduled to leave. I told my husband I don’t know if we’re going to make it on the plane. He said we’re making it on that plane, and we did it was very exciting.
What were your initial plans for educating your children?
I put these schedules together, and I put these little packets together, and I said okay, here kids, and we’re going to learn by working our way through these packets, and within literally a week, those were out, they were in the trash because it wasn’t going to work that way.
We realized that because of the places we wanted to go and the things we wanted to see that we would need to homeschool them. I was overwhelmed with the research. So if you’re starting, I empathize with that feeling of being overwhelmed and the feeling of what should I do? How should I do this? Among the resources that are available out, there are some that direct you with a step by step process.
First, decide how you want to homeschool and how your kids are. My son learns very interactively, and very kinetically. My daughter is very academically minded and can handle more standardized learning. So you have to make those decisions for your kids. We gathered all this information about how to homeschool, and then we hit the road with that information.
We had made the decisions that we weren’t going to go and travel the world so our kids could sit at home in our bed and breakfast or Airbnb or wherever we are in the world and be studying all day. That would just defeat the whole purpose and the whole point.
So we played it by ear the first month or two to see what kind of schedule worked for us as a family in terms of the balance between exploring our environment and doing some schooling. We found that two days a week, about three hours on those two days works fine. Sometimes we would add an extra day. Sometimes we’d be traveling and take out a day. But generally speaking, that was our structure. And that seemed to work really well for us.
And then we discovered this thing called Worldschooling, and look at that, there’s a whole Facebook page, and that was really wonderful. I learned about that towards the end of our trip. I wish I had learned about it at the beginning because I would have made so many friends on the road through that. It would have been wonderful.
There is this whole Worldschooling community, which is really fantastic, fellow nomads who are like-minded and have the same values for themselves and their family and their kids, to be able to meet them and say, I’m going to be in Bali next week. Is there anybody there? And to exchange useful information for traveling but also to share in some kind of community for the kids, which is really great, and that’s something we were missing in some of our travels.
How do your kids learn?
Because we were traveling light, we didn’t take any books; just one notebook each, and we did everything via the internet on the computer.
So the way we structured the learning is we had two or three days a week, where we would focus on reading, writing, and math. And the rest of the time, we would just learn from our environment, and that means, for math, my son was learning about currency exchanges, by telling the tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand how much the baht means to the dollar. Also, in places like Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, we would visit the War Museum there and learn about the American Vietnam War.
Traveling has probably been the best thing that could have happened to our son. Our son has ADHD, a sensory processing disorder, and he has a visual processing disorder. He has other challenges, but those are the main ones. So traditional learning in a public school is extremely challenging for him, and it’s always been work, and it’s been hard for him. It’s been hard for us. It’s been hard for his educators. But seeing him learn on the road as we travel has been beautiful. He really blossomed and came alive. And we really got to understand how much he’s actually learning because it’s hard to see through the mess of the challenges when we’re at “home”.
Out on the road when we see him exuberantly talking to the tuk-tuk drivers because he loved them. He was fascinated by the tuk-tuks, and negotiating the price for the tuk-tuk to take us down to the zoo or whatever, and learning the languages too. In every country, we learned some basic words, and our son would just use those words and just, the fact that he can play a role in his education, and him not even knowing that this is education, that for him, it’s just life, and it is it’s just life, but he’s learning, and this has been amazing.
For reading, for example, which is extremely difficult for him because of his visual processing, he would listen to audiobooks and I would read to him. He could read while he’s standing on his head, we didn’t care, he’s not in a traditional classroom. And we would find workbooks that he would hopefully be really interested in. Everything on our iPads or phones, and then for math, we had a couple of computer programs that he would work on, because again, his style of learning, he needs the interactivity. He just couldn’t do it. It would kill him to do a worksheet or to do a standard type of math. So doing it interactively with these learning educational video games where he learns math. Writing is really challenging for him. So I would let him dictate, I would transcribe for him. We would practice handwriting because the physical act of handwriting has always been difficult for him. So he would do those.
So we do that two days a week for three hours, and the rest of the time we just learn from the world around us, especially for things like history and culture, and social studies. We’d pick topics, or my son would say, I want to learn about the solar system. We’d say, Great, okay, Dad, you’re the science guy and he’d teach them about the solar system.
For our daughter, she was very young. She was three and because she would see her brother reading she would want to read. So we started her on a program called Starfall. It’s just a software application available over the internet, and it’s $35 a year, so super cheap, and she basically taught herself how to read. It was just amazing through this interactive program. That was how we did it with our kids.
How do the kids socialize?
We were staying in a condo in Bangkok, and it had this whole group of moms who would meet at the pool every day at about 4 pm and my daughter had all these other three and four year old girls to play with, My daughter had a Barbie, so she’d bring out her Barbie, and they’d get together, and they’d play. And today, I’m still Facebook friends with some of those moms. So it’s really lovely. Lasting friendships that were made on the road.
In another location we met this whole community of people that homeschool their kids and we automatically got rolled into this beautiful community where my kids got to do rock climbing with all these other kids because there were rock climbing classes that they put on. And somebody else was doing art, so we go to her studio and the kids would learn art. My son signed up for soccer; he got to play soccer. So we really got involved with the community there. That was great.
My son is very, very social. He can walk up to any adult and just start a conversation. He can walk up to anyone and just start a conversation, and it’s really beautiful to see when we were traveling. He broke the ice for us, just being this little kid who would walk right up to the tuk-tuk driver and say, we would like to go here, how much is it? Just being really confident and my daughter who’s extremely shy, she’s learned to really open up. By the same token, our kids are very intuitive. They can also sense someone not to trust.
What qualities do you think your children developed because of Worldschooling?
I see things I was hoping to see, which is open-mindedness, compassion, tolerance. I guess those three, which are huge, my kids are really adaptable.
They can adapt to whatever situation comes up, whether it’s within school or within the community, or whatever it is, they’re very adaptable. Those are great qualities for our kids.
What are the benefits of Worldschooling?
My son’s confidence went way up. In fact, by the time we were leaving, he was in the third grade, and he was calling himself a loser. He was calling himself all these names all the time because that’s what he was getting from his environment at school, kids were making fun of him and saying, you can’t draw, you can’t write. There was not any empathy for a kid like my son at his school from his peers, and his self-esteem was just starting to take a dive.
Well, during and after our trip, the two-plus years of traveling, totally opposite, his confidence is way up, he’s thriving. He really can feel his gift in the world, that he has a gift and it’s coming, it’s here. It’s just an amazing thing to see. To watch them really grow and learn. They’re getting so much more from their traveling and being on the road than they would ever get in a public classroom.
That was part of the mission for us in taking our kids on the road with us and traveling like this is for our kids to learn that there’s just more than one way to live your life. There are just so many possibilities that you don’t have to live this way in this box. Go to school, go to college, get married, get a house, there’s no set track you can define your life and define your lifestyle however you want it to be, and that I think has been really great for our kids, for their learning.
When we finished our trip, we decided our kids would go back to school. For our daughter, it’s one thing, but for our son because he has learning issues. I was a little bit worried as a parent about how he was going to be. He was great. He just thrived. He had so much more confidence. And the fact that his handwriting is totally horrible, because with what he has it’s hard for him, I told him, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s legible. Who cares what it looks like, and I’ve I told him that before, and he didn’t quite believe me. Now he totally believes me. He’s like, yeah, okay, that’s not where my gift is. He gets that he understands that, that’s not where his gift is. His gifts are much more valuable than the physical act of writing. He has nonstop ideas, and that’s more valuable and the way he solves problems. We’ve been told this by educators is that he totally thinks outside the box, and that’s what they appreciate him for is that when he goes to solve a problem, he solves it in a way that people just don’t think to solve it that way. That’s a gift. So he’s thrived upon coming back into the system.
How has Worldschooling changed your relationships with each other?
We got what we wanted in the sense that we were able to spend more time with our kids. So that quality time with our kids, which for my husband and I was one of the main reasons we decided to do this. We hardly ever got to see our kids. We were so involved in our work lives, and the kids were at school all the time. It was hard to find quality time with our kids, by the time they got home from school, and all the duties were done, it was like 6 pm, we’d have dinner, and then, it’s a little reading and then bed.
So that’s not how we were when we traveled, of course, so we really got to spend quality time with our kids and our relationship with our kids. Our bonds with the kids grew and grew and grew.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Because of the way we were traveling, we were learning as we were going; we just winged it basically. And we were traveling, what some people might say kind of slow, but what others might say kind of fast because we were three months in Vietnam for example, but we we’re constantly moving. We were in South Vietnam, and then we went to North Vietnam, and then we took the train down to Central Vietnam, and we were kind of all over the place. And because we were moving quite quickly, we didn’t get as involved in local communities as we could have or should have, and so we were spending 24 seven together. And I have to say, it was driving us a little crazy sometimes.
So especially for my husband and I, our relationship got a little strained here and there as well because we weren’t taking care of our own needs, we were just always bearing the needs of the entire group. So that puts some strain on us. There were times like in Vietnam; we were able to find a lot of those drop off play areas for your kids; you could drop your kids off there all day for $2. We did take advantage of that so that my husband and I could actually go on a date and be together without our kids. We needed that.
It was challenging to spend so much time together, which is why we will do this again, and when we do it, we’ll do it differently. We’ll plan to slow down, and we’ll plan on being more involved with the local communities in certain destinations because that is the thing that was missing for us, being more involved in local communities.
Now, of course, we have this whole Worldschooling community on Facebook, which is really awesome. So it’s likely we could find like-minded friends through that other nomads with kids and meet up and have a sense of community that way. That was somewhat the missing piece for us that, you know, we can rectify for next time.
But I do advise people who are starting this or getting into this, to keep that in mind because it depends on your personalities, your kid’s personalities, your spouse’s personality, your partner’s personality. You do need to make sure that your own needs get met, as well as taking care of the group, the family, and that the kids also have time that’s totally for themselves, as well as being with their family because being around us all the time wasn’t great for them either. So we tried to get them out as much as possible.
What does it cost to Worldschool?
What’s affordable to one person may not be affordable to another, but it also depends on how you like to travel. I think we are the type of travelers who are adventurous and very much interested in getting into the culture and understanding it and immersing ourselves. We don’t need five-star hotels, by any stretch. That’s not what makes the adventure and travel exciting for us. So what kind of traveler you are also dictating what kind of budget you’re going to have to create for yourselves.
But I’ll tell you, traveling around the world was so much cheaper than living in one place in the San Francisco Bay area where the cost of living is super high. So it’s much cheaper, we were spending so much less money traveling than we are staying here. Our budget was about $100 a day for the whole family; some places we’d spent a lot more and some places we‘d spend a little less, but the hundred dollars a day just to round up a little covered everything, it covered, our travel, airplane, boat, train, whatever, whatever our travels were, it covered our lodging, and we use Airbnb, almost primarily, it covered, food, it covered, all of our expenses.
And it didn’t mean that we didn’t get to do anything because we went scuba diving in Bali, we did a lot of activities that enriched the travel experience. And we’re very outdoorsy, we’re very adventure driven. So we would seek those adventures, and we’d do that we took motorcycles from Hue to Huyan in Vietnam, it’s a five-hour ride on motorcycles with our kids, it was a blast.
So we didn’t hold back. But what we did to keep our budget in that area is, first of all, we traveled to places where our dollar would go far. That’s why I keep coming back to Southeast Asia. It was an amazing enriching experience for so cheap. For $USD4-$5, you could feed our family of four really well, with amazing food. You’re in heaven. It’s just fantastic.
So we did that. Other tips and tricks that we applied are that we’d stay of outside of the main cities, and that made the prices cheaper, and also, if we could stay longer, it would be cheaper because the Airbnbs, we noticed that if we stayed for two weeks or a month, the cost was exactly the same. So we do that.
How do you afford to Worldschool?
We chose not to work; we saved up our money and chose just to enjoy our time traveling. I did do one project. I’m a writer by trade, and I’m able to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. So that’s really great. I had a client base before I left, and I did do one project for one client while we were traveling. Then I decided I didn’t want to do that again because while my family was out playing and exploring and doing things, I was stuck in the apartment for the entire month working on a project for this client. So I decided after that, I’m just going to chill and not work on this trip, but in a future trip will probably travel slower, and I will probably work.
My husband, the type of work he does, has to be at a location. It’s very hard for him, it’s a Silicon Valley engineering type job, but the kind of work he does he has to be on-site, so for us to travel in the way that we want to, he would have to leave his job. So that was really scary for us to give up that income, but we just decided it would be worth it because we’ve always wanted to do something like that. We knew we could.
So it was a matter of how we were going to structure it and what we were going to do. And early on, we’d made a decision that we would enjoy those travels and enjoy that time with our kids, so maybe not work.
For us, we just worked really hard to save money. We just worked on saving money, not buying things, and just put it all towards travel. And then we also had the benefit of my husband’s job had stocks that we were able to cash as we traveled.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?
There are a few things I would definitely say.
Don’t worry, it’s all going to work out. Don’t stress. I stressed a lot about the homeschooling side of things. How are we going to keep our kids educated while we do this? It all works out!
At first I had had this whole schedule and we’re going to do it like this, or like that, and within a week I realized that’s just not gonna work. It’s not going to work for my kids; it’s not going to work for our family. It’s not going to fit in with the way we’re traveling. And it took my husband who’s like, the relaxed one out of the two of us to say; we’ll figure it out, it’s going to be fine. I mean, worst-case scenario, they don’t do any schooling at all, and they’ll still be fine. And it took me a while to warm up to that.
Then we found a routine that worked for us and a balance between my husband’s completely laid back attitude and my wanting to have everything organized. We found a balance between those two extremes, and it worked out great. So, yeah, relax. It’s all going to work out fine.
Where can we find you online?
The best place, the best place to find us is at my travel blog, which is www.mylittlevagabonds.com and we are also on Twitter as littlevagabonds and on Facebook as mylittlevagabonds, and on Instagram too.
What would you say to someone who is considering Worldschooling?
I highly recommend it for families that have kids who have challenges at learning. It depends on what the learning challenge is for your child. But I would be really open to taking a look at what this can do for you and your child and your child’s relationship with the world and his or her relationship with you. All these things can change dramatically.
While we were on the road, we did do some reading, writing, and math, and we had some structured time for that a couple of days a week. But our rules were so not the classroom rules. You don’t want to travel the world and then just take a classroom with you. You want to create your own classroom, whatever that looks like for you and your family. And for our son, I mean, the fact that he could listen to audiobooks, and he could instead of actually reading, and the fact that we could read to him the fact that he could, read and then run around the house, a few laps and then come back and read another page, or, there were all the rules where we could create whatever rules we wanted. We’re writing our own rules for our son’s education, and he thrived and is, as I mentioned before, his doctor said that he can’t think of anything better to do for this child than to take him on the road and do what we were doing.
If you’re motivated, you can do this. You absolutely can do this.
You have to first decide, yes, I’m going to do it. We’re going to do it.
Second, make some logistical plans on how you’re going to get it done.
And then just go for it. And once you’re on that plane, or boat or train, it’s going to feel exhilarating.
And let me tell you as hard as it was to get rid of all our possessions. I didn’t miss a thing. We didn’t miss anything. Our kids were playing with straws and boxes; they didn’t care that they didn’t have their whole selection of toys. So it’s all good. It’s all good.
It’s a great learning experience. And the world has so much to teach us, so many values, that I feel like how can one not do this if they can find a place in their life to just pull it off?
To find out more and connect with the Bailey Giauque Family, check out the links to their websites below.
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